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Man, 39, banned for drug-driving

Cleared of second charge as 'took drug after being stopped'

Charlotte Booth

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Charlotte Booth

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A TADLEY man has been banned from driving for 23 months after being caught behind the wheel under the influence of drugs.

But 39-year-old Matthew Francis  Keeley, of Reynards Close, was cleared of a second, similar offence – because he only ‘snorted’ the drug when he saw police approaching.

Mr Keeley admitted driving while unfit through drugs in Worting Road, Basingstoke, on December 5 last year.

However, he denied committing a similar offence on London Road, Basingstoke, on November 15 last year.

During the trial at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on Monday, March 26, Mr Keeley claimed that he was not driving under the influence of drugs, but instead had taken half a gram of cocaine when the police pulled him over. 

Pc Weldon, from Basingstoke Police Station, told the court: “The thing that concerned me was the speed going on to the slip road, as there was no decrease in speed. 

“There were also slight movements from left to right.

“There was some indication and decrease in speed, but not enough as you would expect from a competent driver.”

Pc Weldon admitted that until he saw Mr Keeley exit his car after being stopped, he was unable to see anything other than a silhouette of the driver for several seconds. 

Tom Ackworth, defending, said his client only took the cocaine once he had been pulled over and before the police officer arrived at his car.

Mr Keeley said: “I had the wrap in between my legs on the car seat as I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time.

“I had the wrap in my hand and as the car stopped I sniffed it and then got out of the car.” 

The presiding magistrate said: “On one level it is a straightforward case, as facts are agreed that you did take cocaine and that there was time to have taken it before the police arrived at your car. 

“The only matter is whether you took the cocaine before or after you were stopped by the police. 

“We cannot be sure when you took this cocaine, so we are finding you not guilty of this offence.”

One of these charges was for having four times the legal limit of the controlled drug Benzoylecgonine in his blood.

David Foslen, prosecuting, then addressed the seven charges of theft between September 26 and October 23 last year, which Mr Keeley pleaded guilty to in January. 

There were two charges of dishonestly making off without paying for a total of £143.63 of goods, three charges of making off without paying for fuel amounting to £138.45 and two charges of stealing meat of an unspecified value from Tesco and Co-op.

In addition to these was a charge of driving in Basingstoke on December 12, 2017, with more than 200ug/L of Benxoylecgonine in his blood. 

He also received a community order with electronic monitoring for two months for seven cases of theft, which he pleaded guilty to at a previous hearing. 

Mr Keeley was given a community order, where he will be under curfew with electronic monitoring between 8pm and 6am for the next two months. 

He will also be required to attend rehabilitation appointments with a responsible officer or designated person.  

He was not fined or made to pay a surcharge due to his lack of means.

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